Suspects arrested as shots fired at prison for second time this week

Suspects arrested as shots fired at prison for second time this week

2 men apprehended amid suspected intimidation campaign against prison officers involved in crackdown on mobsters

The Ayalon Prison complex in Ramle, central Israel (AP/Ariel Schalit)
The Ayalon Prison complex in Ramle, central Israel (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Police arrested two men on suspicion that they opened fire at the Ayalon Prison in central Israel overnight Thursday, the second such shooting at a prison in two days.

Police said the two were arrested hours after the incident in the central city of Ramle, and were also suspects in a similar shooting on Wednesday that is being investigated as a warning by underworld figures.

The suspects, two men aged 23 and 47 from the Arab Israeli town of Jaljulia, northeast of Tel Aviv, are to be brought before a judge at the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court later in the day for a remand hearing, police said.

During the incident, just after midnight, several bullets hit a guard post next to the headquarters of the prison. The post was manned, but no injuries were reported.

Police said the two were suspected to be members of a Jaljulia-based gang whose leader was denied leave to attend the funeral for his brother three weeks ago. The leader of the gang and others are under arrest for two suspected murders.

That incident was the second attack on a prison compound in just two days and the fourth since August. Early on Wednesday morning, a similar drive-by shooting took place at the Rimonim Prison near Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prisons Service officers stand at the entrance to Rimonim Prison, February 23, 2014. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

The shooting, officials said, was seen as a “warning” to Prisons Service officials who have been clamping down on the activities of criminal organizations inside the prison in recent months.

The more recent incidents are suspected to be part of the same campaign against prison officials.

The crime organization believed to be responsible for the attacks had “crossed all red lines,” officials said Wednesday.

“Our assessment is that this is the work of criminal organizations we are operating against, that have abandoned any restraints they had and are willing to occasionally carry out serious attacks, including shootings toward prison walls and verbal and other threats against officers and jailers in the Prisons Service, in a bid to control them through intimidation,” they said.

In early October a bomb exploded inside a car belonging to the head of one of the wings of Rimonim Prison while it was parked near her home in Netanya. No one was hurt in the attack, but the car sustained heavy damage.

The officer targeted in the bombing oversees the section of the prison that houses the members of the criminal organization suspected in last week’s shooting.

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